Federalism ain’t that bad

05:06 AM February 07, 2018

The hullabaloo that the planned switch to federalism is generating causes me to lose focus on imperative domestic chores assigned me by the wife (for example, turning off the rice cooker). So I decide to take a hard look at the issue.

As I always do when I study a serious or delicate matter, I reflect on the opinions of the experts and clinicians whose views are as luminous as the minds that produce them.


“Federalism will reduce, if not eliminate, poverty, and make joblessness a thing of the past,” says a top honcho in Congress. (That’s good.)

“It will further divide the country,” claims a senator who preaches love and peace but professionally relishes bashing heads. (That’s bad.)


“It will end wars, bring lasting peace
in Mindanao,” opines a Palace fixture. (That’s good.)

“It will multiply the number of warlords. As many as the number of states that will be created will be the number of warlords that will rise,” warns a politico from the North who is himself a warlord. (That’s bad.)

“It will end graft and corruption,” assures a business-political leader from the South, who counts Customs denizens as among his allies. (That’s good.)

“If its rabid exponent quacks term extension, waddles as he hints No-el, no question, it’s a prelude to dictatorship,” snorts the Left’s high priest, weighing in all the way from his lair in Holland. (That’s bad.)

I decide to stop consulting with the experts. I don’t feel I’m getting anything worthwhile from them except motherhood statements. I convince myself I’ll do better dissecting federalism—how it works, the opportunities it offers, the good that it engenders, and the bad that it eliminates—by jawing with my good and wise friend Lee Hong.

“Federalism? Glad you asked,” Lee Hong begins. “Wonderful idea, but many people don’t know what it is. Most think it’s a new brand of ice cream coming into the market. Even supposedly well-informed people like you have only a vague understanding of what it’s all about, and you’ll be asked shortly to vote on it.”

“All right, Lee, cut out the commercial and just tell me all the stuff about federalism that you know,” I snapped.


“Okay,” he says. “Federalism is simply slicing the country bibingka-like into several autonomous states. Each state will chart its own course, frame its own laws, develop and manage its own resources underground and aboveground—in short, be its own boss, free to do what it pleases from logical to ludicrous, like, example only, select for its Public Servant of the Year award from among bureaucratic notables such as, say, Mocha Uson, Sandra Cam, Atong Ang, Nicanor Faeldon and Harry Roque, to mention a few, and which entity to be a loud partisan of, Barangay Ginebra or Talk ‘N Text, Ateneo or La Salle, or the month’s
insuperable flavor up to 2022, San Beda.”

“Wow, ganda pala!” I enthuse. “It bestows lots of latitude on whiners against Imperial Manila, like Cebu’s and other promdi’s Imperial Politicos. What about interstate problems—don’t you see any conflict that federalism will create?”

“What conflicts?” Lee says, shrugging. “They’ll be solved.”

“Well, territorial jurisdiction, for example,” I say. “Suppose a gang from Meycauayan City of Central Luzon (CL) state that abuts National Capital Region state snatches a girl from NCR’s border city Valenzuela and flees to home grounds with the NCR militia in hot pursuit. Halted at the border by CL militia, NCR troops threaten to shoot their way in. But the CL militia counters: ‘You step one inch into our territory and we’ll rain in yours all the firebombs—kwitis, Judas belt, Good-bye Marawi, the whole shebang—produced by Bocaue, the fireworks capital of the Philippines and the pride of CL state.’”

“How,” I challenge Lee Hong, “will you chill the standoff?”

“No problem,” Lee Hong says blithely. “The federal government will call for peace talks between NCR state and CL state to be held at the MOA Arena under Federal’s auspices. The Talk Teams of the two states will meet thrice a week in the mornings. Afternoons will be free time for peace panelists for recharging and some relaxation in the casinos. Isn’t this the way we always try to untangle pesky problems like traffic, squatting, squabbles in the House and the Senate, chicanery in the bureaucracy, etc. — through endless talks? Or till the problems go away? Clear?”

“Yeah, thanks,” I mumble. “Mabuhay ang Dutertism … er, federalism!”

* * *

Mart del Rosario ([email protected]) is a retired advertising-PR consultant.

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